9.2 Digitalization and ecological justice (Expert content)

Taking Control, Making a Difference Sessions 9.2 Digitalization and ecological justice (Expert content)

Let’s Hear from the Experts

This part of the session introduces you to some expert content to help you understand digtialization and ecological justice with greater depth. A case study highlights how communities around the world are tackling some of these issues. They illustrate how the struggle for different kinds of human rights, including the right to communicate, can come together under the umbrella of digital justice. The case studies are followed by expert content on opportunities for advocacy and networking.

    Case Study

    Peehee Mu’huh: Lithium Mine

    What: The proposed Thacker Pass (Nevada, USA) lithium mine, which would involve extensive open-pit mining and lithium processing operations, including an acid plant. The project is for the production of lithium carbonate for consumer products like personal electronics and electric vehicles. Indigenous communities oppose the project due to the lack of meaningful consultation, potential destruction of sacred sites, environmental degradation. These concerns are exacerbated by historical trauma of broken treaties and displacement from their traditional lands.

    When: In early 2021, Lithium Americas received approval for Thacker Pass as a new lithium mine, including open-pit mining operations. The conflict on this land, however, dates back more than 150 years. The very name, Thacker Pass, it is believed comes from the name of a soldier who saved two babies from the massacre of Paiutes, the Indigenous people of the Great Basin, by the hands of U.S. calvery.

    Where: Thacker Pass is known as Peehee Mu’huh to the Indigenous people. It is in the southwestern United States. It is a proposed site for large-scale lithium mining operations, and also a site of cultural and historical signficiance for the Western Shoshone, Northern Paiute, and Bannock people. It is home to ancestral burial sites, traditional lands, and wildlife habitats and integral to the cultural practices of these Indigenous communities.

    Why: Indigenous opposition to the lithium mine is rooted in the protection of sacred sites and cultural heritage, as well as environmental sustainability. The mine threatens to destroy these sacred grounds, disrupt wildlife habitats, and contaminate water resources. Additionally, the mining project symbolizes broader issues of capitalism, colonialism, and extractivism that have historically marginalized Indigenous communities and exploited their lands without consent.

    How: The opposition involves various strategies, including public protests, legal actions, and advocacy. Indigenous leaders and communities are actively raising awareness about the historical and cultural importance of Thacker Pass through media campaigns and community gatherings. They emphasize the need for the United States government to recognize oral histories and respect treaty rights. Legal efforts include challenging the Bureau of Land Management’s permits and demanding proper consultation and recognition of the area’s significance. Environmental concerns are also highlighted, such as the impact of dewatering and toxic waste on local ecosystems.

    Read more here >>

      Expert Input

      Building an ecological justice movement in digital rights advocacy

      The Association of Progressive Communications has published an article on how to build ecological justice into the development and use of digitial technologies.

      Recommendations include engaging with existing and dierse communities and networkes; advocating through coalitions, organizing events to explore the connection between ecological and digital justice, develop specific demands and goals.

      Read the full article here, including examples of these strategies in action.

      Source: Association for Progressive Communications is an international network of civil society organisations founded in 1990. WACC Global is a member.

        How India wants to (literally) fix e-waste

        The economic boom in India through the 1990s and 2000s saw a corresponding shift to digitalization. Traditionally, India has a very strong culture of repair, with cobblers and seamstresses on every corner ready to give your goods a little more life.

        This explainer video from DW illustrates how India has merged the old with the new, and has found its own way to combat e-waste and the rise of unsustainable consumer culture.

        Watch the full video here.

        Source: DW Planet A is the YouTube channel on ecological themes from Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international public broadcaster.

        Break Time

        Time for a well-deserved break! Are you feeling empowered and ready to advocate for ecological justice in our digitalized world? Or do you feel a bit overwhelemed by the scale and complexity of the problems? Either way, let’s tak a break and think about what we have just learned. Here are some questions to guide your reflections:

        • How are marginalized communities in your context disproportionately affected by the environmental impact of digital technologies? How can you find out more?
        • How can international policies be shaped to ensure that digitalization aligns with ecological justice principles?
        • How can digital rights activists collaborate with environmental justice movements to promote sustainable technologies? What coalitions or networks are active in your context?

        Have you gathered your thoughts? Noted your questions? Ready to go futher?

        Great! Then let’s keep going. Click on “Complete Lesson” to head toward the final part of this session.